Neglected four-week-old kitten shows peril of online pet sales

Battersea is warning people not to buy pets online after a helpless four-week-old kitten covered in his own urine was sold on a car boot sale app.

The tiny white kitten was rushed to Battersea's iconic London centre last month by his new owner, who quickly realised he was far younger than he'd been advertised online.

Battersea has launched a new campaign to encourage people to adopt rescue dogs and cats after it revealed its rehoming numbers have fallen in recent years as it struggles to compete with unregulated online pet sales.

The kitten so young he could not clean himself properly and was badly scalded from his own excrement. He was severely underweight, in pain and very frightened.

Battersea's expert veterinary team gently bathed him and cleaned him up. They named him Nimbus as he resembled a fluffy cloud after his bath.

Nimbus faced weeks of treatment to get him to a healthy weight and repair the damage done from being separated from his mother at such a young age, so Veterinary Care Assistant Kate Brooks took him on foster to ensure he got the care and attention he needed round the clock.

As he had never been shown how to eat from a bowl by his mother and littermates, Nimbus struggled to feed himself and Kate had to teach him to eat, as well as administering regular baths to soothe his skin and eye drops for his constant eye infections.

Battersea's Head of Catteries, Rob Young, said: "Luckily Nimbus was brought to us just in time as without immediate veterinary care, his future could have been very sad. His story just goes to show how dangerous it is to purchase a pet online - this poor kitten was in an awful state and far younger than he'd been advertised. Buyers are being duped and we're seeing more and more people bringing animals bought online to us with the same sad stories.

"At Battersea, we'll always get to know the animals in our care so we can give any potential new owner a full picture of their new pet and they can go home reassured they have the perfect fit for their family."

Following more than a month in Battersea's care, Nimbus made a full recovery and became the loving and lively kitten staff knew he could be. After he was microchipped and neutered by Battersea's veterinary staff, he went to a loving new home in north London.

Battersea’s Head Vet, Shaun Opperman, said: “Nimbus was far too young to be separated from his mother when he was sold online. He came into us in a terrible state as he couldn’t clean himself properly and he clearly wasn’t being fed properly as he was seriously underweight. Our veterinary team had to step in and play the role of his mother, helping him feed and learn to groom himself, as well as administering treatment for his eye infections and upset stomach.

“His story goes to show the huge risks people run when they buy online – there’s absolutely no guarantee they’re buying what’s been advertised and, as in this case, many of the animals sold online have received little or no veterinary treatment, leaving them helpless. We can pick up the pieces for those fortunate enough to come through our gates but there are thousands more sold each day that we will never see. Not all animals will have a happy ending like Nimbus.”

Rob added: "We're so pleased Nimbus got the happy ending he deserved, but we still have dozens of cats and kittens looking for their second chance. If you're interested in rehoming a rescue animal, please visit www.battersea.org.uk."